I work two jobs. I have a full course load (fifteen credits). I try to maintain a relatively active social life. I drink a lot of Red Bull.
And, you know, here’s the thing: if I’m going to go to work, I want to know that it’s worth my while. The Writing Center is always worthwhile, of course—the pay is good, the work is fun, and we always have a full dish of candy. Our communal mini-fridge and microwave are nice touches as well.
But waitressing. Well.
The sexual harassment is bad enough. A few days ago, one of the line cooks (who happens to look like a Motley Crue reject) put a paper towel over my mouth and asked if it smelled like chloroform, because, rape jokes! Funny!
Then there’s the fact that I’ve spent the past couple weeks waitressing while injured—yay for knee-wrenching bike accidents! My co-workers have been nice about it, offering to take upstairs tables so I don’t have to climb, but it still blows.
Oh, and then there’s the owner of the restaurant, who wears his ROYAL DICKBAG crown with pride and hates me for reasons unknown. I’d care, but then again…he’s a royal dickbag.
I can deal with this. Well, most of it—the chloroform rag incident is probably getting reported. But people. Pathetic, douchey, dining people. A three dollar tip on a forty dollar ticket is not. fucking. acceptable. You know why? Because waitstaff are legally required to claim ten percent of their sales as tips, and when you tip me less than ten percent, you cost me money. I actually get taxed on money I never received. All because you are a cheap piece of shit.
And lest you think my regular wages cover the various costs of my life, I get paid three dollars an hour.
Yep. Three dollars. So, y’know. Not exactly a living wage.
I’ve heard people bitch about having to tip at all, and while I agree that restaurants should pay waitstaff a living wage, I would also like to point out that, were this to actually happen, restaurants would have to find a way to compensate for that money spent. And how would they do this? Hmm. Well. Golly, I just don’t know…oh wait!
They’d raise the prices on your food, dumbass. And you’d probably end up paying even more per meal than if you had just left a decent tip in the first place.
Also, sometimes shit goes wrong in the kitchen, and that sucks, and I’m sorry—but it’s not my fault, so don’t let it affect my tip, alright? One of the cooks at my restaurant is paradoxically addicted to both meth and oxycontin, and one night a couple weeks ago he was only the cook working. Luckily we were dead, but even so, he screwed up three steaks and let my order for a bowl of soup sit for six minutes without even looking at the ticket. He didn’t have any other orders up, so I asked him if my soup was coming, and he actually yelled at me.
BECAUSE SIX MINUTES IS NOT THAT LONG AND GOD WHY WON’T ANYONE LEAVE HIM ALONE HE’S ONLY GOTTEN TO SMOKE ONE CIGARETTE SINCE HIS SHIFT STARTED AND ALSO IS TOTALLY CRACKED OUT SO YEAH.
Of course this person should never work in a kitchen, and I am genuinely sorry that his hands are touching your food, but it’s still not my fault if he screws up. Hell, I’ll gladly yell at him on your behalf, because I really don’t give a shit what he thinks of me, but again—if it doesn’t work, it’s not my fault.
And yes, I realize that you, dear customer, have no way of knowing that our only working cook shoots up in the alley, but really, let’s think about this.
You are one of the only people in the restaurant. My service has been (fakely) cheerful and efficient; your drinks have been promptly refilled, and I have made a point of coming to your table to explain that there is a delay in the kitchen but your food should be out shortly. In the meantime, I offer to bring you some fresh bread so you have something to snack on while you wait.
Who do you think is at fault for your missing entrée?
Me, the friendly server striving to make your dining experience something better than dreadful? Or one of the incompetent asshats in the kitchen?
See, I’m not a very forgiving person. I never have been. If I see someone behave horribly, it takes a lot for me to give them a second chance. But then again, if I don’t know why things are messed up, I try not to assign blame—and I wish more people would do this.
Because it’s true—you just don’t know. And on a stressful night with cracked-out line cooks and six entrees on the 86 list, when our soda gun is malfunctioning and we somehow managed to run out of tequila, an awful tip from a pissed-off table just makes everything worse.
There are so many people involved in the successful running of a restaurant—managers, cooks, waitstaff, dishwashers, bussers, host/hostesses, whoever runs the delivery truck that has our food, the guy who failed at fixing our dryer, the owner who refuses to let us just pick up some damn Cuervo at the liquor store, etc. So when something goes wrong, well, it might be your server’s fault, but it could also be any one of those other people—and unlike your server, they all get paid minimum wage or better.
“Tips” is a stupid word, really—it’s not money you give when the service is exceptional and you want to show your appreciation, it’s money that you should feel absolutely, 100% obligated to give, unless the service was hostile and aggressively rude. Tips are what your server lives on—her hundred dollar biweekly paycheck doesn’t exactly cover rent.
So don’t be a dickbag. Don’t leave a dollar fifty dollar tip on a twenty-five dollar ticket. Don’t start yelling when you run out of ketchup. Just be a decent human being—because I’m not sure how many more of you assholes I can take.